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Nigeria accuses UNICEF staff of spying, halts activities

Nigeria accuses UNICEF staff of spying, halts activities
FILE PHOTO: A banner with the UNICEF logo is seen hanging on a makeshift school at an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp on the outskirts of Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria June 6, 2017. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye/File Photo -
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AKINTUNDE AKINLEYE(Reuters)
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By Ola Lanre

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) – The Nigerian military on Friday accused United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) staff of spying for Islamist militants in northeast Nigeria, and suspended the agency’s activities there.

The northeast has been torn apart by a decade-long insurgency by Boko Haram and its splinter group Islamic State West Africa, in which more than 30,000 people have been killed and many more driven from their homes.

UNICEF staff “train and deploy spies who support the insurgents and their sympathisers”, the Nigerian military said in a statement.

These were “unwholesome practices that could further jeopardise the fight against terrorism and insurgency”.

A UNICEF spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

With millions displaced, Nigeria’s northeast is largely dependent on international aid.

(Reporting by Ola Lanre; Writing by Paul Carsten; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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